My entire novel was sucked down the black hole now what?

Between 2 and 4 today I looked at my work, 71K words so far out of about 85K and I did a bit of editing then closed it out. I think this is when I put it on the desktop from the file folder. The next time I looked all I saw was blank “paper” icons. No words. There are no words in my novel at all. I have earlier versions, but they are all really not as good. So this program is supposed to back up, but how do you get the backups back? Where are they? I hope you can help. I don’t want to start all over. Thanks.

Under Tools → Options you can see where Scrivener is saving the automatic backups.

What did you move to the desktop? The .scrivx file or the whole .scriv folder? The .scrivx file is only like a table of content for the project. You need the whole folder.

Once you recover your missing novel project, might I be so bold as to recommend that you do a backup of your work that doesn’t use Scrivener backup routines.

In Version1, it’s the MyNovelName FOLDER that you copy to another device, like a USB stick, another hard drive, another storage device, whatever. The folder contains all of your novel files Scrivener v1 needs to run.

If you’re using Version3, copy the MyNovelName.scriv FOLDER.

I use multiple devices to store all of my novel projects. I have over a hundred projects now. Of course, I don’t copy all of them. I make only duplicates (outside the Scrivener system) of the projects that I am actively working on. I do that at the end of my writing day. The rest remain untouched unless I make changes - which happens rarely these days.

It was the folder. I assumed it was to become like an icon and when I clicked it, Like a shortcut. it would lead me back to the folder. Some other folders look like they are the ones that go with it: Snapshots, Files, Settings. There could have been “renaming” involved. I am not good with computers. I moved the folder, It had one name (Live2) because I had several older versions. I think that it asked me something and I assumed that it was asking me to write down where I wanted it. The word “desktop” now appears where the name should be. I don’t quite remember that part.

I was about to compile it because I do editing the old fashioned way and was at the final writing stages. Someone was going to tell me how to compile because it was my first time doing it. So I dragged the folder from the windows file explorer to the desktop. I looked around the entire file for a bit. I imported a part that I had just written. then I closed it all. Somewhere in that saving, it was saved somewhere I don’t know. It is an offline laptop and I only use it for writing, but it has online capability and I moved the new file from a second laptop through dropbox.

As far as where the files are stored-- I don’t know. It might be a good idea to have some kind of an “about” page where idiots like me can find out where they decided to store things. I used to have a cloud service but it would not differentiate what I saved and I did not want to save pictures to it, so I eliminated it. I do not know if eliminating it made the scrivener files default back to saving on computer.

Someone asked why I was not saving on a cloud. Because the whole idea was to be able to write anywhere including where there are no internet services. Also on the other machine, I cannot even get my original scrivener to open because it says it was a new version. Well, all my files were saved in a portable hard drive. None of them will open because it is an older version. I have only had Scrivener since last year and I can’t open the files? Really?

There is a FB group where the moderator is going to go into my computer. We are trying to set that up. I looked and looked and every time I looked and closed out one of those versions it was saved.

Sorry, this is a mess, That’s a novel I have been working on for years and it was almost done.

I found the backup folder. I opened and closed it more than 5 times while looking for the correct text. I am going to guess that since it only saves 5 times that all those backup files are blank. I have to open all the zip files to see if there is anything in them. How do you unzip a zip file.

You open a zip file by double-clicking it. But make a copy and rename it first, before you try to open anything. Give the copy a new name that tells you that it is a previous version from the backup.

No, you can’t open the project by double-clicking the folder icon.

You say you “imported a part”? How? If you moved the whole folder from one place on your HD (the original location) to a new place (the “Desktop”, which is also only a location on your HD), you should be able to double-click the .scrivx file and that’s it.

Well I was on the phone for nearly 2 hours with an IT person associated with you, they were only able to retrieve a copy of the novel from about last September. I put 20K words in the novel between September and Now. Sadly all that work is lost. I do not know what I am going to do, but my first instinct is to move everything to google docs and stop using either dropbox, or Scrivener. It has really great tabs but can’t be trusted with saving work. It also has too many random things that a computer illiterate can screw up.

I say this as a retired Database Administrator, I have spent most of my career protecting computer users from themselves. I take no pleasure in telling you this, ALL software has things a computer illiterate can screw up. The automated backups found in most software are convenient, sure, but they can NOT protect you from yourself.

Which is why, even with Google docs, you HAVE to create backups from outside your productivity software. In addition to the built-in convenience backups of your productivity software, I recommend that you do backups on a weekly basis and keep 3 weeks’ worth of backups. You don’t have to spend money to do this, Windows has zip file capability built in and if you want a few more bells and whistles the free app, 7 - zip is very useful.

I do it this way, On Friday, I zip up and save the folder where Scrivener saves the text to a special back up folder I have created. I create a new back up name like “Scriv-BU-yyyy-mm-dd”. There is nothing special about the folder, it is just a folder I use ONLY for storing backups. When that new backup is completed, I take last week’s backup and move it to the special back up folder on my EXTERNAL hard drive.
(you could use a thumb drive, or even a CD if you wanted).

Then when that is complete, I take the two-week-old back up already on the External storage medium (in my case, the
external hard drive) and move it to my Cloud storage service (For me, OneDrive and Since I come from a profession where paranoia is considered a virtue, and a job retention skill, I tend to keep a month’s worth of backups on OneDrive. But at least one generation of 3-week-old backups is essential.

This way, I have THREE sources of external backup data available to me outside of the Scrivener convenience backups. If, after a disaster, I can’t recover my lost data from ONE of those sources, then the world has more problems than I can deal with!

Yupp! This is extra work, about 10 minutes a week, and you can probably automate it with real back up software. (just make sure you test the backups for readability every so often) BUT it beats the heck out of trying to reproduce your work from vague memories. My method allows for daily backup (Scrivener Backups) AND Weekly, & monthly backups (Zip files/OneDrive).

If losing data is a disaster for you, trusting someone else to keep your work safe for you is just asking for trouble. Even with Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

@StarDog2 - you’ve quite properly and relatively simply described a simplified form of the classical grandfather-father-son backup rotation routine. But I do fear it’s a) still too much for most users to undertake without some hand-holding and habit building. and b) the process to get the most recently backed-up data restored will be overly complex. They will therefore revert back to the simplest possible action: grab a Scrivener project folder from where it’s been saved by the application and stick it somewhere that appears to be on another ‘safe’ part of their system .e.g. the Desktop.

Microsoft should have built a ‘time machine’ roll-back within Windows for application files by now, especially after more than 25 years of OS development. But they haven’t. So we’ll continue to read these depressing stories (particularly so for poor, suffering end-users like @Larkin, who only wants to type some words onto a page on one day and read them on another) forever and a day.

First, I am a user, like you.
Secondly, L&L doesn’t have telephone support so it can’t have been someone associated with L&L. So the question is, whomwere you talking to?

Dropbox doesn’t screw things up. The Dropbox app only does teo things. It copies changed files from your computer tomthe Dropbox server, and it copies files on the Dropbox server to your computer if there are files on the server that are newer than the ones you have on your computer (i.e if you updated those files on another computer). That’s all!

Scrivener doesn’t do anything by itself, apart from saving what you write to the place where you told it to save the project when you created it. And it makes a backup copy of the project every time you close the project. So the only way for the project tomdisappear or be corrupted is if you move files within the project somewhere else, or edit part of the project using something else than Scrivener, or if you computer crashes and can’t be rescued.

So if your text is lost, it’s because you moved it, deleted it, or did something else. Not because Scrivener or Dropbox did anything.
Stop being computer illiterate! There are plenty of easy books teaching you the basics.

I’ve yet to see an instance of Scrivener being responsible for loss of this nature (I guess it is possible), rather every instance I’ve seen has been user/OS related. Win is partially responsible in that it doesn’t present the Scrivener projects as MacOS does. In MacOS the project folder appears as a file you can click to open. In Win it navigates as a folder you can drill down into and potentially open the incorrect item/s. (You can force the ability to do this in MacOS but it requires positive intent by the user). While a number of people have cautioned about not opening files within the Scrivener project on Win perhaps a visual is most effective.

I’ve seen this in various versions over the years and can’t recall who first illustrated it, but think Bobby Treat who runs one or two Facebook Scrivener groups may have illustrated it early on. He’s on here under a different user name but I won’t ‘out’ him unless he chooses to identify himself. Anyhoo, the illustration.

  1. The Project folder (.scriv)
  2. The .scrivx file is the ONLY file you should open in this folder.
  3. Unless you SERIOUSLY know what you are doing stay the out of here.

And further to this, if anything does go wrong, STOP. Don’t go opening shit and poking around looking for your project.

Jot down the sequence that occurred and led up to the situation.

Reach out here or on the Scrivener Windows FB group. Someone with solid knowledge will help you. No insult to the L&L guys, but I recommend the Scrivener Windows or Scrivener Windows V3 FB Groups. I’ve seen well-meaning folk here give dubious advice.

The aforementioned Bobby Treat may well offer a Zoom session if you post on either of the FB groups. Take him up on it. Intelligent free support is hard to come by (unless you own Mac kit and then everything AppleCare support is free, including screen sharing sessions).

But whatever DON’T PANIC - sit on your hands so you can’t make matters worse, then ask for help.

It was the Facebook moderator who is an IT specialist and who knows a lot about Scrivener. My problem was much worse than I thought. She was able to put me back at the place I was basically last year.

I honestly think that someone should start talking about the negative worse-case scenarios. I understand that L&L is a company and needs “Happy talk” but this is actually not an “Easy” program. And people who get Beta programs usually know a lot about computers. You need to ask questions of people who know nothing about computers-- I am talking to you, Beta engineers and computer program writers!

They used to have one. Backups. You would put the date in and go back to how your computer was that day. That was like Windows 7 or something like that can’t remember. You really cannot control anything with windows 10. I hate window’s 10.

But my other observation is that I cannot even back up to a portable hard drive because the “version” of the backup that is presently being used will not open older versions. That is ridiculous. I had a ton of stuff backed up on a portable Secrest drive and it was useless. So backing up by random methods is also impossible. This is a call and a challenge. Not all the people on earth are rich people who have the latest IOs and equipment. If you (Scrivener) even wish to be relevant to the majority of users you have to get it together!

After a few statements in this thread, I will continue to use Scrivener but I will write everything on a google docs page and back up on Google docs and then use it as a tab system for final compilation. I will not use it to write in. It is too sketchy. I have never had any problems with google docs which I’ve used since about 2012. (at least). I used Scrivener for one year and it ate a novel I had been working on for many years (most of the recent writing from last year though).

So it is on parole. It is being carefully watched for further crimes. In short-- I no longer trust it. Tell the founder, the owner, the guy. You know that guy. Tell him.

You continue to say Scrivener ate your work yet nothing points to that. Everything thus far points to IMHO system and/or user error. I have used Scrivener Mac and Win since very early versions and not once has Scrivener even taken the slightest nibble at my work.

I have had:

  1. A self-inflicted sync with iOS error quickly resolved by logic and use of the auto backups.
  2. A system failure resulting in the loss of a couple of minutes work thanks to autosave.

While its very sad that you lost the work, there is nothing ‘sketchy’ about Scrivener. I have introduced a number of people including total computer novices to Scrivener on Win and Mac platforms and after first instilling need for save and backup strategies which apply to all software, and a few warnings about the vagaries of Win not one of those people has found the slightest evidence of Scrivener nibbling at their work, and certainly not wholesale gobbling.

It’s very sad that you lost your work, yet again, IMHO unfair to blame Scrivener.